Ardens open season with silver

The Swift Current Comp. Senor Ardens won three of four games to bring home a silver medal from the Bowlt Classic Basketball Tournament in Saskatoon to open the season.

The Ardens opened the tournament with a 63-23 win over Saskatoon Evan Hardy on Thursday. Grade 12 guard Ali Vance led the team with 14 points, followed by nine points from Kennedy Choo-Foo.

“You never know what you are going to get the first game of the year, so as a coaching staff we were pleasantly surprised with how the girls played. We caused turnovers early and got out to an early lead which let us roll through our entire roster throughout the game so everyone could shake some rust off and get rid of their butterflies,” said head coach Andrew Herrick.

They added a 74-58 win over Saskatoon Bethlehem on Friday in front of the opposition’s student body. Mackenzie Veason led the team with 16 points, followed by nine from Choo-Foo.

The Ardens led 35-24 at halftime before allowing a 17-0 Bethlehem run to open the second half, but recovered in the fourth quarter, led by a strong finish from Vance.

“It was a great opportunity early in the year to play in a road playoff environment as they had their entire school out to watch the game. We played really well in the first half; our pressure caused them problems and we moved the ball well on the offensive end,” noted Herrick.

The Ardens wrapped up a perfect round robin with 54-50 win over Wynyard. Veason and Vance each scored 15 point in the win.

“In the Wynard game we lacked intensity to start the game and struggled shooting. Kennedy Choo-Foo was out with injury and she is our leader on the floor and it took awhile for the girls to adjust to not having her out there. It was one of those ugly games that we grinded out and found a way to win even though we didn’t have our best stuff,” explained Herrick.

The Ardens took on Moose Jaw AE Peacock in the gold medal game and lost 69-56. “We came into the game a little short handed but I thought the girls gave a great effort against a pretty solid opponent,” said Herrick, who added that Peacock played with good tempo and that their transition defense wasn’t quite good enough to get the win.

Madison Mortensen, who was named to the tournament all-star team, controlled the glass and did an excellent job anchoring the defence and led the team with 14 points.

“Overall it was a great start to the season and I think the girls are really starting to mesh. I was impressed with how some of our returning players really stepped up from last year into their new roles,” said Herrick. “In particular Mackenzie Veason showed a real improvement at the defensive end and did a good job scoring the basketball on the offensive end. The girls are definitely looking forward to playing at home next weekend and putting on a good show.”

The Ardens will host their home tournament this weekend. They open the tournament Friday at 2 p.m. against the Moose Jaw Vanier Spirits at Ecole Centennial. The championship game is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. The eight-team tournament will also feature the Regina Sheldon Williams Spartans, Prince Albert St. Mary Marauders, North Battleford Comp. Vikings, Weyburn Eagles, Notre Dame Hounds, and Yorkton Regional Raiders.